Mind-body connection

Of all the factors that can influence our physical health - diet, lifestyle, environment, thoughts, feelings and genetics - thoughts and feelings, or the psycho-emotional aspect of our being, are most influential, says Dr Richard Moat, founder of Moativational Medicine, a new model of philosophy, art, science and practice.

Yet this aspect remains the least understood.

Nonetheless, it's emergence as the most widely researched area of medicine, formally known as psycho-neuro-immunology or PNI, over the last 20 years suggests it's likely to prove significant in our quest to discover the reasons behind our illnesses.

Moat was recently in the country for the first time to conduct a series of public seminars and workshops to show just how easy it is to remedy and reverse the emotional aspect of ill health.

The Newcastle-born Brit, a student of the Academy of Human Potential (formerly the British College of Integrated Medicine) and a PhD holder in clinical hypnotherapy, says ever since medicine was first recorded, the psycho-emotional make-up of an individual was an observed factor in assessing the cause of an illness. It was just as important to understand what type of person had the illness, as much as what type of illness the person has. Hippocrates was the first person to document this.

But over time, Western medicine lost sight of this aspect, "preferring instead to create a pill for every ill rather than understand, explore and treat what might be at the root of those ills", says Moat.

"Today, the term 'stress' is widely used to conveniently bundle together any number of possible causes, leaving little room for specific answers and solutions.

"When we look closely at the major causes of stress, we will realise that our beliefs, values, feelings and behaviours are all intertwined to create an unconscious way of being and relating in the world."

Feelings, says the bachelor Leo, are nothing more than feedback. They let us know how a person or a situation is affecting us. But if we don't acknowledge, explore or express them, we end up creating an emotionally toxic environment inside us.

The word "emotion", explains Moat, comes from "energy in motion", so when we talk about emotion, we're talking about energy.

"Anything that we block or resist in any aspect of our lives will inevitably lead to some sort of breakdown, imbalance or blockage. Emotional well-being is actually allowing ourselves to fully feel whatever we may be feeling, and understanding that it's genuine, valuable feedback."

Suppression

But most of us tend to suppress our emotions, says Moat. That buildup in the body, in turn, has an impact on our body systems - immune system, nervous system, etc - and later, these break down due to huge demand.

Most people, adds Moat, don't realise that the majority of illnesses today are caused by emotional mismanagement, although he concedes that factors such as nutrition, environment and lifestyle also play a big part.

"Typically, we don't look in the realm of our emotions. It's taboo, scary, not something our culture promotes."

But Moat is quick to add, our emotions are not necessarily the problem. It's more the way that we're expressing or not expressing our emotions that has a bigger impact on the inside.

We need to ask ourselves where these emotions come from, and "as they come from inside of us, they're ours and so we play a part in conjuring up these emotions. We live in a society that tends to suggest that there's always somebody else responsible. The reality is, you can't make me angry or sad unless I let you."

Moat's approach to "treating" illness is hardly conventional. He believes that there's too much emphasis these days on "what's wrong, let's fix it" and stopping there.

He sees illness as an invitation for us to take a deeper look at how we're being in the world, how we're relating, and how we're living.

"But of course, we don't grow up in a world that says, 'Illness is a messenger, let's look deeper', so most people don't. I believe that illness is simply a warning sign, a smoke alarm that says you can do better with the way you live or handle your life.

"Once we know what the problem is, then we can talk about how to change the way we're living our life, or the way we're relating or communicating so this doesn't happen again."

We have to get real, so to speak, and the reality is that the way we live our life, communicate or relate, lets us down.

"It creates stress, and stress is all emotion. People talk about the job being stressful. No, it's not the job, but how we're responding to the job. Or the relationship is tough. Well, it's not, but the role that you're playing in that relationship and the dynamics you have with your partner.

"If we're honest, we will see that most of the time we're not being who we are. We're either avoiding the truth or displaying a version of the truth, as truth hurts," says Moat.

Four areas

There are four areas that we are generally afraid of in life: Rejection, loss, feeling vulnerable, and feeling the full force of our emotions.

"One or more of those fears lie behind our behaviour when we choose not to express ourselves fully," says Moat.

The long-term risk of suppressing our emotions? "Death," replies the earnest Geordie, who currently resides in New Zealand.

"We're all going to die, of course. The problem comes when we ignore the feedback. If we suppress the strong emotions within us, then at some point those emotions, which are buried alive, aren't going to die. The body will eventually present its bill in the form of little aches or in dramatic fashion, like cancer. The spectrum's broad."

But he says once we accept that perhaps the way we're leading our life emotionally isn't the most empowering, then our excuses disappear. The next step would be to get access to help.

"I help people decipher the meaning in their illness. When you know what to look for, you can access quickly the emotion concerned, and more importantly, the scenario and the behaviour in your life that's giving rise to it. It can completely hand responsibility to you to turn your illness around so you can experience wellness as a result of being emotionally mature."

It's a brand new field, admits Moat, who's been studying it for the last 15 years. But the approach has been around since the dawn of medicine. "All I've done is study it, articulate it, package it and present it to the world."

On whether he's the most cool person thanks to his know-how, he says with a chuckle: "Absolutely not! But I've been blessed with being able to learn some of the most simplest and eloquent techniques for dissolving energy. Whenever I feel something unwanted, I can explore it and get to its root. Then I just allow the emotion to come through me."

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